ATK (Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge) is one of many terms used to describe the collective knowledge systems unique to the First Peoples of Turtle Island.
ATK can also be referred to as “traditional knowledge”, “Indigenous knowledge”, or “naturalized knowledge.” ATK usually refers to those Indigenous systems of knowledge, as well as cultural practices and methodologies related to the production of knowledge based on traditional belief systems, relationships to the environment, and community practices. It is the accumulated and living knowledge possessing a depth and breadth of information built upon the historic experiences of Peoples living on the land and adapts to social, economic, environmental, spiritual and political change. Its value in understanding species, ecosystems, sustainable management, conservation and use is unparalleled. It comprises of a deep understanding of complex interrelationships between individual environment components, the dynamics of local ecosystems and the peoples that live in them. ATK is often used to denote systems which may differ from western approaches to science and knowledge. Much of this knowledge may be orally transmitted, and it may be considered sacred, thus it is important that ATK as well as community attitudes and desires regarding the use of ATK be treated with the utmost respect.
Traditional knowledge can provide guidance to government decision makers for environmental decision making processes, and can help ensure environmental management regimes are sustainable. Indigenous peoples are willing to assist in environmental management regimes but need to be recognized respectfully for the knowledge they have to contribute in environmental management regimes. This means not only having input but working in collaboration with governments on a government-to-government basis. With the increase of intensifying pressures on Indigenous lands, we need to work together in order to sustain “all our relations” for those yet unborn.